Locs, or dreadlocks, usually take about a year to fully mature. Over time, hair bonds or locks together, creating solid ropes of hair, which can be thin or thick, long, short, sleek or free-form. The process of hair locking starts with braids or twists, which are maintained over time to achieve the final mature style. Although the best way to mature your locs is to be patient and wait for nature to take its course, you can speed up the process with a few techniques.
Start with a hair-locking technique such as the interlocking or woven method, which can create locs on any hair type, even if it's straight and fine. Other starter techniques, such as braiding, may take longer to set.
Do not wash your hair with shampoo for the first month, to avoid interfering with the "baby" stage of your locs and slowing down the process. When you do wash your hair, wear a nylon cap over your locs.
Twist or roll your locs daily with your fingers to groom and help them mature. Use aloe-vera gel, and start from the base. Do not overtwist your locs, however, or you could damage them or make them fall out.
Wash and groom your locs every 2 to 3 weeks after the first month. Use a gentle shampoo, or shampoo designed for locs. Only use conditioners designed for locked hair. After six months, stop twisting or rolling the locks daily and leave them alone for the most part to avoid damage and hasten maturity.
Moisturize dry locs with essential oil rather than post-shampoo conditioners.
After your locs have fully matured, you can wash them as often as you like.
Delaware-based Daisy Cuinn has been writing professionally since 1997, when she became the features editor for her local biweekly music newspaper. She has been a staff writer and contributor to online and offline magazines, including "What It Is!," Celebrations.com and Slashfood. Cuinn holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Temple University.